2021 Fall Conference Proceedings

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FA21-01 Lessons Learned from the FIU Bridge Collapse
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On March 15, 2018, six people lost their lives after the partially constructed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami collapsed. This case study presented by Aaron J. Mann, Esq., explores the evolution of this project, including decisions made and discussions that took place in the crucial days and hours before the collapse. Rather than a purely technical discussion about the structural shortcomings of the bridge, this presentation focuses on the ethical issues encountered in the final days of the project, the investigations and lawsuits that followed, and the impact to the project team. It is our hope that we can all learn from this tragedy. (58 minutes)

FA21-02 West Fork Upper Battle Creek Diversion
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The West Fork Upper Battle Creek Diversion (WFUBCD) provides additional water supply to the Bradley Lake Hydroelectric Project (BLHP) located in the Kenai Mountains at the head of Kachemak Bay near Homer, Alaska. BLHP is owned by Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) and is Alaska’s largest hydroelectric facility, producing an average of 380,000 MWh per year at $.04 per KWh. The WFUBCD will increase annual power production by approximately 10%.

Jason Thom, P.E. (DOWL) Project Award of Excellence Winner, presents this project. The WFUBCD construction project consisted of three miles of new access road, two miles of large diameter pipeline, a concrete core rockfill diversion dam, and the pipe outfall channel. It began in 2018 and was completed on time and 1% under projected cost of $47,782,000 in 2020, despite logistics challenges and because of innovative technologies. (48 minutes)

FA21-03 Emerging Leaders Class Outro
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GBA’s Emerging Leaders Class (ELC) began their term in Fall 2019 and will sunset at this conference. Despite meeting in person just two times, the ELC formed strong bonds built on common experiences, camaraderie, and collaboration. This class brought energy and fresh ideas to GBA, including a focus on delivering GBA content to members through new platforms, with a keen focus on podcasts.

Vice-Chair Tiffany Vorhies, NACE CIP-2 (SME) moderates this full force team of ELC panelists, who share how being a part of this class has brought value to their firms and enhanced their personal and professional development through connection, problem-solving, and leadership opportunities. As expected, these emerging leaders bring energy, enthusiasm, and a few surprises. (37 minutes)

FA21-04 Emerging Leaders Class Recognition Ceremony
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This conference is a reunion for us all. And it’s a special reunion for our Class 4 Emerging Leaders who, having worked closely together for two years, almost completely remotely. We celebrate their accomplishments as a team and recognize each of them individually. (13 minutes)

FA21-05 Instant Memory Training for Success: The ABC’s and 123’s for Developing a Powerful Memory
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Learn from the world’s leading memory skills expert! In this fun and interactive presentation, U.S. Memory Champion Chester Santos (International Man of Memory) helps you develop life changing skills. Learn how to easily remember names to facilitate building better relationships. Chester also helps to fuel your professional and personal development by unlocking your mind’s hidden power to easily remember facts/figures, processes/procedures, famous quotes, foreign languages, exam/training material, and much more. This is an entertaining, educational, and “memorable” program! (72 minutes)

FA21-06 Joining Forces in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Conversation Among Consultants
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Diversity, Equity, and inclusion (DEI) is an important topic in our industry, especially in light of changing demographics and the competition for talent. In this panel discussion moderated by Veronica De Freitas, P.E. (Universal Engineering Sciences, LLC), a geoprofessional industry leader, Michael E. “Mike” Hutchinson, LG, LHG (GeoEngineers, Inc.), joins a DEI professional consultant, Jahmad Canley (Potential Unleashed), to discuss the challenges and opportunities they have encountered while working together to create a sustainable and inclusive culture; their experiences in executing diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies in a technical organization; success stories; and ideas for how each of us can help foster a more inclusive working environment at our own firms. (51 minutes)

FA21-07 Communicate with Strength: Key Words That Undermine Your Effectiveness
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Got the right words? Laugh and learn in this session filled with the latest solutions in effective communication, based on neuroscience principles. What are you saying that’s causing your staff and clients to subtly feel uncooperative or defensive? Karen E. Purves, M.A. (Innovative Impact) tells you and gives you replacement words and phrases that lead to more efficient messaging and smoother collaboration. Her goal is to educate and inspire geoprofessional leaders to communicate in a more effective manner with employees, clients, and family/friends and to leave you with an immediate, specific action plan. (50 minutes)

FA21-08 Business Effects of Shifting Cannabis Rules and Regulations
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With even more states trending towards the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis, the rules and laws related to cannabis use in the workplace are also evolving, causing employers to face a host of challenges in response. Rochelle Doyea, Esq. (Cairncross & Hempelmann) and Terence Scanlan, Esq. (Cairncross & Hempelmann) discuss significant changes made to several states’ anti-discrimination laws; how these changes impact employers’ obligation to accommodate cannabis medical treatments; best practices for employers’ drug testing procedures and policies in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements; and the employers’ duty to accommodate on- or off-duty medical or recreational cannabis use.
Additionally, design professionals who work for cannabis clients have new issues to contemplate. We discuss considerations for designing buildings where cannabis may be grown, stored, distributed, or sold. (49 minutes)

FA21-09 Engineering Challenges of the 21st Century: An Overview of Engineering Change Lab-USA
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The world is facing an unprecedented wave of change. Accelerating technological progress, rapidly evolving societal needs, and growing environmental imperatives (including climate change) present significant, existential challenges and opportunities. The world’s experience with the coronavirus pandemic has heightened awareness of the need to be better prepared for these challenges. In this environment, maintaining the status quo is not an option for the engineering community. Engineering Change Lab-USA (ECL-USA) is a new non-profit whose mission is to be a catalyst for change within the engineering community, helping it reach its highest potential on behalf of society in addressing the engineering challenges of the 21st Century. This presentation by Michael P. “Mike” McMeekin, P.E., ENV-SP (Engineering Change Lab-USA) provides an overview of ECL-USA, its history, vision/mission, and key learnings about the future of engineering. We also focus on the topics of ECL-USA’s most recent summits: the future of engineering licensure, climate change and the future of engineering, and the engineering firm of the future. (51 minutes)

FA21-10 Dam Safety, Dam Politics: An Historical Perspective
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Minutes before midnight on March 12, 1928, the massive concrete gravity St. Francis Dam collapsed, sending more than 12 billion gallons of water surging through Southern California’s Santa Clara Valley and killing some 400 people. This tragic failure is widely recognized as the greatest civil engineering disaster in twentieth-century American history. Drawing from the author’s award-winning book “Heavy Ground: William Mulholland and the St. Francis Dam Disaster,” this provocatively illustrated presentation by Donald C. “DC” Jackson, Ph.D. (Cornelia F. Hugel Professor of History, Lafayette College) provides an account of how and why the St. Francis Dam came to be built, its relationship to LA’s municipal water supply system and California’s 1917 dam safety law, the geological character of the site and the cause of the dam’s tragic collapse, political factors influencing post-failure investigations, and how these investigations related to the impending Congressional passage of the Boulder Canyon Project Act (which authorized what is known today as Hoover Dam). (62 minutes)